I have a ritual. At work, when the babies are down for first nap, I like to finish my coffee while catching up on my reader feed. Second nap usually is a quick 30 minutes where I try to restore order to the house from the day (we like to dump out all of the toys and make a big mess and a lot of noise after lunch), followed by another hour in the glider wherein I rock both babies as they take second 2nd nap.

But first nap is the one where I take my break of the day. I curl up on the sofa with my lappy and my Neptune coffee mug and read words of people who say things much better than I ever could. And if you are one of those people (over there on the side, and a few others I haven’t included yet because I keep forgetting my resolution to tidy up the blog), thank you. Thank you for hanging out with me during first nap. I like your words.

First nap yesterday morning was no exception to my ritual. The babies were snuggled in their cribs and I was cozy with my coffee and my blogs. One blog I read belongs to a very dear friend whom I’ve known for many years; for this blog, I will call her Blossom*. She came into my group of friends when she was dating one of the guys in our group and when their relationship ended a couple years later, the girls in the group got custody of Blossom because she’s so great. She’s honest and passionate and honestly one of the most caring people I know.

However.

She and I disagree on a couple of fairly big ticket items. Politics, for one. And also religion, specifically Christianity. And her post this morning was a very passionate and heartfelt plea to her readers to examine their lives and consider whether they were truly and fully given over to God. And if I still believed in that kind of Christianity, it would have been very inspiring to me. I mean, it honestly was inspiring just because of her total abandon to her faith and her urgency for others to experience what she knows. That kind of passion, when it’s honest, is always inspiring.

To give context, her post was discussing the feeling of being heartbroken and feeling like something is missing from life and the things people use to try to fill that hole. (Money, love, etc). Yet one line she wrote really made me think. And 15 minutes later, when one of the babies woke up coughing and I brought her out to the living room with me so she could spend the rest of her nap nestled on my chest, I continued to think about it.

The truth is, if you don’t have the Healer, you will never be whole.

This line isn’t new to me; I spent enough time in the church to hear this sentiment fairly regularly. And back in my Christian heyday, I probably even said it to people. Never to people who didn’t believe in Jesus, mind you. I was never comfortable with evangelism. But I know I said it to my friends who were Christians.

Here’s the funny thing though. The time in my life where I felt that hole, that longing for something I couldn’t name, was when I was a part of that Christian bubble. I was constantly worried that God thought I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t praying enough, that I was way more sinful than any of my friends. And I knew my doctrine; I knew that my salvation didn’t depend on the work I did or didn’t do; it just depended on my faith and belief in Christ. But I wasn’t freaking out about whether or not I’d been “saved.” I just wanted God to like me and I never felt like he did.

I understand it now. My anxiety came from knowing deep down I was faking my belief. I was restless because I wasn’t thinking for myself and was waiting fearfully for someone to figure out I was a fraud. So the more I faked it, the more I put pressure on myself to be the right kind of Christian, the bigger that hole grew until it became a chasm separating me from God.

And so I ran. I quit the church, I quit my sorority, I quit a lot of my uber-Christian friends. I went through phases of anger and guilt. And then somehow, I let myself off the hook. There is a lot of power to be claimed when you admit you don’t have all the answers. And when I finally admitted that I didn’t believe in the one-path salvation my church, friends, and mentors were preaching? When I finally was honest with myself? The hole started to go away.

I remember very clearly a conversation I had with my friend The Penguin. We’d met for coffee in Barnes and Noble, about six months after I left College Station. And over coffee, we had one of those conversations that, when it’s finished and you are driving home, you just know you’ll remember it forever because something in your life has shifted as a result of sharing words with someone. It was over coffee with The Penguin that I was honest out loud for the first time about my struggles and my phoniness, confessing some of my darkest secrets regarding my life as a Christian. This confession, this reconciliation of my honest thoughts and feelings, was very cleansing for me, freeing me from years of self-imposed oppression. Once I said the words out loud, I felt the hole close up even more. The more I worked to be honest, the more I felt the chasm between God and myself closing.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

I’m only 29. My beliefs about God and the universe are just forming. I know more of what I don’t believe than what I do believe. I don’t believe in any one religion. I don’t believe in one-path salvation. Yet I feel more whole now than I ever have before. Even through broken hearts and huge, life-changing transitions (moving to Seattle, changing my job drastically) I’ve never had second thoughts about leaving Christianity and the church.

I like the things that fill my life. I like my relationships; I have amazing friends both here in Seattle and far away back home. I’m comfortable expressing my views about religion and God. I have no lingering guilt or anger from the past. I’m lucky and blessed.

The truth is, if you don’t have the Healer, you will never be whole.

The funny thing is, I feel whole. I have been healed. I don’t know by what; God, the Universe, myself, the power of honesty. I don’t know. I know I feel joy. I know I see more good things in my life than bad. I know I’m loved. I know I’m whole.


*Blossom, I hope you know I am not at all calling you out or questioning your honesty about your faith. As sure as I am in what I believe, I know you are in your God as well. And I love you a whole lot. You make me think and work to be more honest and I appreciate you more than you know.

Advertisements